Rubber Hockey - April 2024

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Wesley’s overtime goal seals

Youth Tier II 14U 2A national championship for Jr. Coyotes READ

Stellar goaltending duo leads

Jr. Golden Knights to Girls Tier II 14U 1A national title

The Jr. Coyotes celebrate the USA Hockey youth 14U Tier II 2A national championship in Williamsville, N.Y. Photo/USA Hockey The Vegas Jr. Golden Knights are the USA Hockey girls 14U Tier II 1A national title, winning in Sioux Falls, S.D. Photo/USA Hockey

Jr. Sharks alum Celebrini wraps 2023-24 season with Hobey Baker Award as top player in men’s Division I college hockey

At just 17, Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini is the youngest player in college hockey and the youngest to win the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in NCAA Division I men’s hockey.

He stands out as one of the country’s top centers, showcasing a comprehensive, 200-foot game that balances elite playmaking with diligent defensive responsibility. His blend of superior talent, hockey sense, competitive drive, and work ethic underscores his commitment to improvement, both on the ice and off it.

Also this season, the Vancouver, B.C., native and San Jose Jr. Sharks

alum was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year and also named to Hockey East First Team, All Rookie Team, and is the Hockey East Scoring Champion.

At the Sioux Falls Regional, he was named Most Outstanding Player and named to the All-Tournament team.

Celebrini was also named the Tim Taylor National Rookie of the Year and First Team All-American as he helped BU to the Frozen Four.

He is also a top prospect eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft, coming in at the top of the list on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of top North American skaters.


Strong final season at NCAA D-I Minnesota State leads to Lafayette native Morton signing NHL deal with Flames

After a dominant final season with NCAA Division I Minnesota State, Lafayette native Sam Morton has signed with the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

Morton’s contract will begin with the 2024-25 season. He will be joining the Calgary Wranglers on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign.

“It’s unbelievable,” Morton told “Since you start playing hockey, this is what you dream of, to have a chance to sign an NHL contract. What I do with it, that’s coming next, and I’m just trying to put my best foot forward and provide as much as I can for the organization.

“Talking with the Flames, it just sounded like a really good fit in terms of my game and what they’re looking for to help their organization be successful.”

Macklin Celebrini finished the 2023-24 season with 32 goals and 64 points for the Terriers. Photo/Jim Rosvold/USCHO. com Sam Morton wore the ‘C’ this season for Minnesota State and ended the year signing with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Photo/Kenzie Schmidt

Words from the publisher... Follow Rubber Hockey 24/7 online!

Is it time to breathe yet?

It’s now the middle of April and the youth hockey seasons are all over.

BUT... we can boast two youth national champions (see Page 1) and an NCAA national champion (see Page 5).

Pretty exciting, for sure! It just goes to show you that not only does the game continue to grow in our publication areas, but teams in those parts of the country are competing on the national stage with perennial powerhouse or-


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ganizations from more traditional hockey markets.

Which brings me to Colorado.

As we partner with the Colorado Hockey Hub, those stories appear on both the Colorado Rubber website and Colorado Hockey Hub website.

Just a way to keep the game growing and how Rubber can play a small

part, which we enjoy and have for many, many years.

With the offseason approaching as just pro and junior teams are still playing, we’re going to continue to keep building the Rubber brand and getting out the names and faces of all that play this great game in our parts of the country.

The offseason is a time to regroup and take a breath and get back to basics, especially in the Rubber realm.

I believe we still put out a great product on our web-

sites and social media and in the pages of this digital edition 12 months a year, most months seven days a week.

So join me in continuing the growth of hockey in Arizona, California and Colorado.

I’m here 24/7/365 to talk, text or email. Contact me any time at (248) 890-3944 (call/text) or shoot me an email at

I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Looking forward to hearing from you! APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
Matt Mackinder

Denver wins record-breaking 10th national championship

Jared Wright and Rieger Lorenz scored second-period goals, Matt Davis had 35 saves and Denver beat No. 1 overall seed Boston College 2-0 Saturday night to win the 10th national championship in program history.

No. 3 seed Denver (32-9-3), which finished the season on a nine-game win streak, moved past Michigan (nine) for most titles all-time.

Davis had 23 third-period saves in his third shutout of the season. The junior made his 26th consecutive start, the longest streak of his career, and stopped 68 of the 69 shots he faced at the Frozen Four. Davis had 33 saves in the Pioneers’ 2-1 doubleovertime win over Boston University in the semifinals. READ APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
Denver celebrates after blanking Boston College 2-0 Saturday night in St. Paul, Minn. Photo/Denver Athletics

Fraser Cup NA3HL national

Congrats to Arizona natives Jason Hammett, Kelton Chadwick, Owen Gruener and Trey Pareja on winning the Fraser Cup NA3HL national championship March 24 in suburban St. Louis with the Helena Bighorns! Photos provided APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
win state land auction, build privately funded arena, entertainment district READ

Monarchy Madness event kicks off 2024 spring season by crowning 10 championship squads

Monarchy Hockey held its first event of the spring season, Monarchy Madness, over the March 29-31 Easter Weekend at LA Kings Icetown and Ontario Center Ice.

Ten champions brought home banners at the conclusion of the exciting weekend.

8U Competitive

Champion: Natty Hatty

Runner-up: Empire HC

MVP: Luke Barton

In a close game, Natty Hatty took the 6-4 win over Empire HC to claim the championship.

8U Elite

Champion: Rubber Puckies

Runner-up: SoCal Hockey Factory

MVP: Carter McKay

The Rubber Puckies had the offense going and captured the title with an 8-4 victory over the SoCal Hockey Factory.

10U Competitive

Champion: Hatty Ratty

Runner-up: Warriors

MVPs: Isaac Tamkin & Andrew Sharma

Hatty Ratty blanked the Warriors 15-0 as the offense was firing on all cylinders. Mason Kim and Liam Morgan each posted hat tricks in the championship win.

10U Elite

Champion: Kings

Runner-up: Monarchy Force

MVP: Lincoln Tekeila

Liam McDade and Hamilton Hopper each scored two goals to lead the

Kings to a 6-1 win over Monarchy Force to take the title.

12U Competitive

Champion: OC Chargers

Runner-up: CCHT White

MVP: Quintin Ferry

The OC Chargers scored early and often en route to a 9-0 championship win over CCHT White. Parker Foss led the way with three goals and Caige Berry and Gunnar Stolfi netted two each.

12U Elite

Champion: Monarchy Force

Runner-up: Monarchy Stealth

MVP: Jake Szilagyi

In a back-and-forth game, Monarchy Force downed Monarchy Stealth 4-3 to win the title. Jake Szilagyi had the game-winning goal and Jett Longridge scored two goals for the Force. Jonathan Ma had two goals and an assist for the Stealth.

14U Competitive

Champion: OC Chargers

Runner-up: Crush

MVP: Jackson DeLeon

This thriller of a championship game went to a shootout where the Chargers came out on top 3-2. Jackson DeLeon had the winner in the shootout for the Chargers.

14U Elite

Champion: Crush

Runner-up: Monarchy Stealth

MVP: Noah Rodriguez

The Crush topped Monarchy Stealth 5-0 to bring home the championship. Kyle Sanders and Noah Rodriguez each scored two goals in the title game.

Midget Competitive

Champion: Monarchy Force

Runner-up: Monarchy Stealth

MVP: Landon Gallardo

Monarchy Force captured the title, beating Monarchy Stealth 6-2 as six different players found the back of the net.

Midget Elite

Champion: California Hockey Club

Runner-up: Natty Hatty

MVP: Isaiah Ellender

The offense was spread out here as five different players scored for California Hockey Club in a 5-2 win over Natty Hatty to secure the championship.

The next Monarchy event, the Memorial Day Showdown, is slated for May 24-27.

For more information and to register for future Monarchy tournaments, visit

For Monarchy Madness championship team photos, head on


New Long Beach ownership bringing back historic Bombers nickname to USPHL

Former Long Beach Bombers player Curtis Fisher (2009-11) will join longtime Long Beach hockey supporter Josh Fitzgerald in teaming up as the new ownership of the USPHL Premier’s Long Beach franchise.

The former Long Beach Shredders struggled a bit in their time in the USPHL, winning a total of 25 games in three seasons.

Rather than try to build up that brand, Fisher and Fitzgerald instead reached into the past – 30 years worth of history – to bring back the Long Beach Bombers name.

Scoring, soaring in AHL with San Diego

La Mirada native Chase De Leo is now the San Diego Gulls’ all-time point producer.

La Mirada’s Chase De Leo became the San Diego Gulls’ all-time scoring leader by recording four assists in a two-game American Hockey League set in Tucson the last weekend in March.

De Leo racked up three assists in the Gulls’ 4-0 blanking of the host Roadrunners on Friday to tie former Gull Sam Carrick’s top tally of 181 points (86 goals, 95 assists). De Leo then picked up an assist in Saturday’s 7-3 setback to move oen point in front of Carrick to set a new club record. De Leo, a Los Angeles Jr. Kings grad, who has collected eight assists in his last five games, now has 182 points (67 goals, 115 assists) in his five-year San Diego career (201821, 2022-24).

He ranks first in both franchise-best points (182) and assists (115) and second in both goals (67) and games played (220). APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
Photo/Phillip Brents

Postseason honors across NCAA D-I college hockey circles

Hermosa Beach native and Los Angeles Jr. Kings alum Mattias Sholl earned CCHA Goaltender of the Month honors for March. Read more on Sholl’s stellar 2023-24 season at Photo/Brent Cizek

Cayla Barnes, an Eastvale native and Anaheim Jr. Ducks, Anaheim :ady Ducks and Los Angeles Jr. Kings alum, excelled in her graduate season for the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Read more on Barnes at Photo/Ohio State Athletics

Aspen native and Colorado College golaie Kaidan Mbereko capped off a solid 2023-24 by being named NCHC Goaltender of the Year and being named an All-American. Reac more on Mbereko’s huge season at Photo/Russell Hons

To stay up to date, visit, &!

SDIA Oilers and LA Jr. Kings alum and San Diego native Zeev Buium won a national championship with Denver and was also named NCHC Rookie of the Year, an AllAmerican, and NCHC Co-Rookie of the Month for March. Read more on Buium’s phenomenal season at CARubberHockey. com Photo/Martin Gonzalez

Manhattan Beach native and Los Angeles Jr. Kings grad Ian Sholl has been named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year and earned All-American status for 2023-24. Read more on Shane at Photo/ Lexi Woodcock/Cornell Athletics

Scottsdale native Cutter Gauthier helped Boston College to the national championship game, won the Walter Brown Award as the top Division I player in New England, was an All-American, Hockey East Player of the Month and Hockey Commissioners Association National Player of the Month for March, and was a Hobey Baker Award Hobey Hat Trick finalist. Read more on Gauthier at AZRubberHockey. com Photo/John Quackenbos APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY

For Colorado Springs native Barr, NAHL tender with Anchorage ‘very exciting’ opportunity for future

Gavin Barr has had a solid 202324 season with the NA3HL’s Helena Bighorns.

Recently, the Colorado Springs native earned a shot to play in the NAHL by signing a tender agreement with the Anchorage Wolverines.

“My tender opportunity with Anchorage came up after the NA3HL Showcase,” said Barr. “I initially had a conversation with them after a game at the showcase and then had a follow-up phone call with the director of scouting (Taylor Guay) and GM (Keith Morris) where they had offered me one of their tenders. Getting an opportunity to be able to play

in Anchorage next season is very exciting, as I have wanted to take my game to the next level and be able to play in the NAHL. With this opportunity, I will be able to do just that.

“The Anchorage Wolverines are a great team, with an outstanding coaching staff and management, and I am lucky to have the opportunity to be part of the team. I also think it will be an amazing experience to live in Alaska and play in front of their fans.”

Back home in Colorado during youth hockey, Barr played for the Krivo School of Hockey Elite and Colorado Rampage.

Gavin Barr won a Fraser Cup title this season with the Helena Bighorns. Photo/Brett Penner

After four-year NCAA D-III college career, Colorado Springs’ Vaughan off to pro hockey with FPHL’s Prowlers

Jake Vaughan spent two seasons playing NCAA Division III hockey for Connecticut College and another two skating for Saint Mary’s.

Now, the Colorado Springs native has moved on to the professional hockey ranks, signing last week with the FPHL’s Port Huron Prowlers.

“The opportunity with Port Huron came out of nowhere, honestly,” said Vaughan. “I got a call three weeks after my college season had ended, and it definitely took me by surprise. Just goes to show you never know who’s watching, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue to play the game at the next level. I am very thankful for the opportunity that the coaching staff here is giving me.”

“It’s exciting to add high-quality college players at this time of the year,” added Prowlers general manager Matt Graham. “We’ve been

looking for the right college players to bring in and (Vaughan) was high on our list. I’m excited to see what he does with the opportunity. He will add good energy to our roster, and I expect we will get more out of the guys who have been here as well.” Vaughan scored his first pro goal in his second game, scoring March 29 as the Prowlers beat the Binghamton Black Bears 4-1 on home ice at McMorran Arena. Vaughan was also named first star of the game.

“Being able to score my first as a professional this early into my journey was an awesome feeling,” said Vaughan. “Sometimes, the hardest part is getting the first one to go, and to have it out of the way is a huge relief and something I’ll never forget. I have the puck in my room here and it’ll be something I hold on to forever.”

Jake Vaughan played the past two seasons of D-III hockey for Saint Mary’s. Photo/Saint Mary’s Athletics

Broomfield native, Team Colorado’s Bouthillette finds right fit with NCAA Division III WNE commitment

Alana Bouthillette excels on and off the ice, which is why the Broomfield native’s recent commitment to NCAA Division III Western New England checked all the boxes.

WNE is a Commonwealth Coast Conference school located in Springfield, Mass., about 90 miles southwest of Boston.

“I first met Coach (Katie) Zimmerman at the Haverhill NA Elite Prospect Showcase in July of 2022,” explained Bouthillette. “I really liked her coaching style and her demeanor. We kept in touch and she invited me to visit the campus and meet the team. The energy and the culture of the team really made it feel like home. That’s when I knew I loved WNE.

“WNE has an amazing science program at their school which caught my attention. WNE’s hockey is a somewhat new program that rose from their amazing head coach Katie Zimmerman that she built from the ground up. I loved how the school made me feel like home and how welcome I felt around the team itself.”

Academics have always been a big priority in Bouthillette’s life, she said.

“I’ve always strived for high academic achievements,” Bouthillette said. “I’m planning on going into Forensic Biology at WNE.”

Going back, Bouthillette said hockey has always been a family tradition.


Alana Bouthillette put together a solid 2023-24 season with Team Colorado AAA’s 19U team. Photo/Be Feral Media

Colorado Springs product, Tigers, Rampage alum Lindsey takes next step in hockey journey with NA3HL’s Bighorns

Garrett Lindsey grew up playing for the Colorado Springs Tigers and Colorado Rampage and will soon take a familiar path to junior hockey.

Recently, the Colorado Springs native signed an NA3HL tender with the Helena Bighorns, a common destination for Colorado-born hockey players.

“I was lucky enough to be connected with Mike Greene and after a few phone calls, they offered me a tender,” said Lindsey. “The camaraderie among the players, the unity to win, and fellow teammates with positive experiences with Helena attracted me. Very cool that they are the champs, too.”


Garrett Lindsey was a go-to player this season with the Colorado Rampage. Photo provided by Garrett Lindsey APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY

Chandler native, Jr. Coyotes, Bobcats graduate Tamburo commits to NCAA D-III Framingham State

Reese Tamburo took his game to a new level this season once he joined the NA3HL’s Northeast Generals.

The NA3HL’s Northeast Generals have announced that standout forward Reese Tamburo has committed to play NCAA Division III hockey for Framingham State.

Tamburo joined a Generals team that was riddled with injuries at the time and had the mindset to do whatever he could to help, filling in incredibly on the back end at defense for several games. He then moved to his natural position of forward and was spectacular.

In 21 games this season, Tamburo had eight goals and seven assists for 15 points. In the Fraser Cup Playoffs, he has taken his game to the next level, putting in three goals and adding six assists in four games as the Gen-

erals swept both the New Hampshire Jr. Mountain Kings and Norwich Sea Captains in the first two rounds on their way to St. Louis to compete for the Fraser Cup.

“Reese is a kid that both Bryan (Erikson, GM) and I have coveted for the past three years,” said Generals head coach Darryl Locke. “When we had a chance to add him, we jumped at the chance. He is an amazing young man that fit in from Day 1. He played any position asked when we needed and excelled playing ‘D’ before we got healthy and moved him back to his natural forward position. He is such a tremendous leader and his maturity has helped the team a great deal.”

Santa Clarita native, Jr. Kings product Krivtsov commits to NCAA Division I Stonehill

The NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs have announced that goalie Tyler Krivtsov has committed to NCAA Division I Stonehill College.

Krivtsov, 20, is playing his second season in the NAHL, both with the Ice Dogs organization.

The Santa Clarita native joined Fairbanks in the 2021-22 season. Krivtsov tended the crease in 24 games that season, combining for a 3.07 goals against average and .891 save percentage.

“I’m very proud and excited to announce my commitment to play Division I hockey at Stonehill College. Thank you to my family, friends, coaches and teammates for helping me get to where I am today,” said Krivtsov.

Photo/Patrick Garriepy
Tyler Krivtsov has had a solid season between the pipes for the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Photo/NAHL

Broomfield native Stafford decides on NCAA D-III Wilkes for college hockey destination

Easton Stafford has experienced the USPHL in two very competitive areas, first playing in the New England Division in 2022-23 before transferring over to the Southeast Division and the Charlotte Rush this year.

He has been to Nationals (just recently in March) and has also hit the 40-point mark in two straight seasons, showing he can contribute no matter where he is.

That certainly comes as no surprise to Wilkes University, to which Stafford will move on to now that his junior career has come to an end.


Laguna Beach native Stefan dominating WHL ranks, signs NHL contract with Edmonton

The WHL’s Portland Winterhawks have announced that forward James Stefan has signed a three-year, entrylevel contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

The Laguna Beach native put pen to paper with the Oilers as a free agent last week after playing five seasons in the WHL.

Before beginning his professional career, Stefan will remain with the Winterhawks through the remainder of the 2023-24 season and will participate in the 2024 WHL playoffs. APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
Photo/Portland Winterhawks

Las Vegas native, Thunderbirds alum Lackas commits to NCAA Division III Albertus Magnus

A.J. Lackas, a forward for the New England Wolves, has committed to Albertus Magnus College for the fall of 2024.

The ‘03 native of Las Vegas just completed his third season with the Wolves at the EHL level. He was an immediate impact player with 28 points in his first year. However, this past year was his most productive to date, eclipsing the 20-goal plateau and registering 53 total points.

Overall, Lackas hit the ice for 127 games throughout his EHL career, tallying 115 points along the way (48 goals, 67 assists).

“He has been a huge part of our success here at the Wolves, including our trip two seasons ago to the

Frozen Finals in Providence,” said Wolves head coach Tim Kunes. “He has put in a lot of work to become a college hockey player and really taken advantage of what our program can offer in terms of development.”

Lackas has gotten a taste of college hockey while participating in the EHL All-Star College Series. Competing with the Main All-Star Team, he took on SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Brockport back in October, tallying a goal and an assist during the exhibition series.

In his youth hockey days, Lackas played for the Las Vegas Storm and Las Vegas Jr. Wranglers back home and in Colorado for the Colorado Thunderbirds.


Las Vegas’ AJ Lackas spent three seasons in the EHL and is now off to play NCAA Division III college hockey. Photo/ Dan Hickling/Hickling Images

Colorado Springs native, Catamounts, Doherty alum Bogan developing game with NA3HL’s Bighorns

Garrett Bogan was part of the Fraser Cup NA3HL championship team this season with the Helena Bighorns.

When Garrett Bogan wrapped up his high school season in 2021 playing for Doherty, he wondered if he would have a chance to play junior hockey and continue to develop his game.

In short, that answer became a resounding “yes” over the summer of 2021.

“I went to the Colorado Springs Tigers ID camp and my old coach, Will English, mentioned my name to the (NA3HL’s) Helena Bighorns and I ended up signing a few weeks later,” Bogan said. “I’ve come back for two more seasons after that. Surprisingly, the only Springs guys I knew before playing up here this season were Gavin Barr and Joe Feamster, but it’s fun exchanging stories with the other

Springs guys about mutual people we’ve interacted with.

“I haven’t played with Gavin since I was 12 or 13, but it’s been fun getting to live with him and play hockey together every day. It’s awesome to see how good he’s gotten and being there to watch him tender to the NAHL (with the Anchorage Wolverines) was exciting for me.”

Bogan has learned to embrace hockey and the off-ice atmosphere in the Montana town.

“This organization treats you like a pro and expects you to act the same,” said Bogan. “The community supports the team so much and you get recognized a lot when you are out and about. Living away from home has been great.”

Photo/G Marshall

Commitment to NCAA Division III Norwich one of value, culture for Castle Pines native Nelson

Sophia Nelson had a successful 2023-24 season with the Team Colorado AAA program.

Sophia Nelson has used her strong 2023-24 season with the Team Colorado AAA program into a college commitment to NCAA Division III Norwich.

The Cadets play in the New England Hockey Conference, with the school itself located in Northfield, Vt.

“The opportunity to commit to Norwich arose towards the end of February,” explained Nelson. “Coach Sophie Leclerc-Doherty had initially reached out to me back in the fall, and we reconnected again in February. During our conversations, I was fortunate enough to receive an offer.

“The school itself is smaller, which

was something I was looking for during the recruiting process. When it comes to hockey, the program aligns with things I value, like culture and a high compete level. They’re a highly competitive program in the NEHC. For me, Norwich offers the perfect mix of academics and hockey.”

In addition to excelling at hockey, Nelson has also been a high-level student and plans to continue that at Norwich.

“Academics are definitely a huge priority for me,” Nelson said. “Being able to balance my school work with hockey has always been something of high importance to me.”


Jr. Coyotes graduate Melo named AJHL Rookie of the Year for 2023-24 season

After a fantastic rookie season with the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, forward Joey Melo is the recipient of the Dick White Trophy giving to the AJHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Melo finished the season first in goals (22) among rookies and second overall in points (43). Melo also set the Wolverines’ rookie record for goals, surpassing Aidan Long’s mark set in 2022-23 (19).

“It’s an honor to win this award,” said Melo, a native of Georgetown, Ont. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity.”


Joey Melo went north of the border for junior hockey and took home AJHL Rookie of the Year honors this season with the Whitecourt Wolverines. Photo/Dave Watling APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
Photo/Be Feral Media

Jaguars, Gators alum, Thornton native Fricke anxious for return in ‘24-25 to USPHL’s Kernels

The 2023-24 USPHL season hasn’t even been over for a month, but Nate Fricke has already signed to return to the Battle Creek Kernels for his third season with the club.

Fricke, a Thornton native, has been with the Michigan-based Kernels since the team started as an expansion franchise with the 2022-23 season.

“I actually got in contact with Battle Creek through my advisor and I was able to meet my coach Triston Jensen at the CCM Showcase and was given the amazing opportunity to go play in Battle Creek,” said Fricke.

“I started my career with a brandnew junior team that took a chance on me, so I see no reason not to stay with them.

“There are plenty of positives playing in Battle Creek, but the biggest one in my opinion is the support from the community. The turnout to every game is amazing and I feel they are behind us every step of the way. I’m not going to say living so far from home has been the easiest thing, but I have been lucky to have a great billet family to make the transition as seamless as possible.”


Lafayette native Simpson gets best of both worlds with NCAA Division I Lindenwood commitment

For Gabriel Simpson, committing to play NCAA Division I hockey for Lindenwood checked all boxes he was looking for.

Lindenwood, located just outside St. Louis, just finished its second season at the NCAA D-I level after finding major success at the ACHA level.

“My commitment to Lindenwood started at the 2023 Rocky Mountain District Player Development Camp where I was coached by former Lindenwood assistant coach Jason Power,” said Simpson. “He told me about Lindenwood, and this was before they were even Division I. He was telling me about how much the school and program had grown in the previous years and about when they

were going to switch to D-I. When I heard that they were going to play D-I hockey, I started paying more attention to them until the conversations escalated to where I made some visits, met the team, and talked with former head coach Rick Zombo.

“After that, I committed.”

Simpson believes the school offers the best of both worlds.

“For the school part, I believe they have a very hands-on experience at Lindenwood,” said Simpson. “For the hockey side of things, they have a young program and for me, it’s a huge opportunity to lead the team into a future of possible tournament, Frozen Four appearances and national championships.”

Nate Fricke figures to be a leader for the Battle Creek Kernels next season. Photo/ Kaitlynn Felmeden Gabriel Simpson has parlayed a strong AAA youth hockey career into an NCAA D-I commitment. Photo/Lauren Carney APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY APRIL 2024 RUBBER HOCKEY
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